I just can’t let go of this matter regarding JCOPE’s jurisdiction. To me it’s crystal clear: The commission has authority to investigate lawmakers moving forward, but not retrospectively.
That is, it cannot revisit possible legislative ethics violations that occurred before the commission was actually formed. This is apparent from the authorizing statute, but clearer still in terms of pure logic.
How so? Well, look at it this way: If JCOPE can go back and review the Tom Libous matter, which involves conduct from five years ago, it can review any conduct from the past.
It could review Joe Bruno, Mel Miller or Manfred Ohrenstein.
It could review Pedro Espada, Carl Kruger, Hiram Monserrate and Vinnie Liebell.
It could review Brian McLaughlin, Gloria Davis, Tony Seminerio, Efrain Gonzalez, Diane Gordon, Ada Smith and Clarence Norman.
It could review Michael Cole, Ryan Karben, Jerry Johnson, Guy Velella and Roger Green
It could go way back and review the Black Horse Cavalry (if you don’t know what that was look it up the more things change the more they stay the same) or Joseph Allds or “Big Tim” Sullivan aka “Dry Dollar” Sullivan (we need more legislative nicknames does anyone remember “Cadillac” Smith?)
And think about it: The conduct involved in these cases was far more egregious that the worst rendition of the Libous matter. Libous, if you believe the convicted perjurer who made an accusation against him or Libous’ hyperventilating political rivals, is supposed to have helped his son get a job. We’re not talking a no show job here. The son, a lawyer, actually worked at the law firm that hired him.
Contrast the unproven Libous allegation with the scenarios that brought down the others. Almost invariably there was extensive scheming that netted the perps millions of dollars. In fact, each case has a fact pattern that was acknowledged by the defense attorneys. A simple review of the agreed upon record would no doubt yield clear state ethics violations. It would be an open and shut case for JCOPE.
Could JCOPE really say “Never mind” to those serious ethical transgressions and choose instead to continue to hang Libous out to dry with a press flack’s overly cute we don’t comment on pending investigations?
To me that would be absolutely absurd. And yet, the more I watch JCOPE, the less surprised I am by the prospect of it doing things that are quite absurd.
Now if JCOPE wants to investigate matters that are timely and that it does have jurisdiction over give me a call I’ve been compiling a file for quite some time.